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Could We See A Renaissance In Wide-Based Single Tires Thanks to GHG Phase 2?

We’ve talked about it before, and that’s the next round of greenhouse gas reduction rules, otherwise known as GHG Phase 2. The question is, could we see GHG Phase 2 result in fleets re-embracing wide-base single tires?

It’s quite likely the answer to that will be a resounding “Yes!” This is mainly due to their low-rolling-resistance and weight savings. Of course, weight reduction is generally not the only factor by which a truck maker will build credits under the new GHG Phase 2 rules, when evaluating the composition of the final product, it can certainly be factored in.

Consider that mounting wide-base single tires on an aluminum rim can cut down on a commercial motor vehicle’s gross vehicle weight ratio (GVWR) by up to 1,100 pounds and it isn’t difficult to see why fleets may be more inclined to option these tires when spec’ing a vehicle – or even purchasing them outright when replacement time comes.

Less About Fuel Savings and More About Credits

In the past, likely the last time we wrote about it a couple years ago, fuel savings was the primary motivating factor for fleets to make the switch to wide-base single tires. But now, thanks to a whole new crop of ultra-fuel-efficient duals, wide-based single savings can sometimes now come in on par with their super-efficient dual counterparts.

Still, the federal government – specifically the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – have put wide-base single tires quite high up on their list of credit-generating equipment.

When looked at through the lens of GHG Phase 2, the low-rolling-resistance and significant weight savings make them a desirable choice both for the agencies involved and fleets looking to decrease their carbon footprint while increasing fuel efficiency.

The “credits” we repeatedly are referring to involve OEMS gaining access to a specific set of credits for every vehicle they sell that meet a certain GHG Phase 2 requirement standard. Power unit manufacturers will be required to average their credits over time and in the end, meet a minimum overall score.

These credit requirements are specifically aimed at manufacturers, rather than end users. Manufacturers will be required to produce the trucks to standard, eliminating the need for buyers to spend time picking out list options to meet regulations.

Of course, not all regulatory change comes without headache. In this case, it will be for OEMs. For example: A fleet purchasing a new tractor will have to spec a particular engine because they will be the only ones offered. This won’t be true in other areas. A buyer could, for instance, remove aerodynamic improvements and special tires, which will harm an OEMs credit average.

Still, for those not choosing to remove the spec, tire manufacturers pushing out wide-based single tires have much to gain from focusing on the product.

Careful Product Planning Behind the Scenes

The fact is, product planners and manufacturers are looking very carefully at the new rules and what they may mean for both manufacturing and buying. Considering it takes around three years of planning and development to bring a new tire to market, there’s a lot to ponder on behalf of the tire manufacturers.

Adding to the complexity are different types of work these tires will be subjected to. There will be an expectation that these tires perform in:

  • Regional
  • Long haul
  • Urban
  • Vocational
  • OTR

As an example, a tire manufacturer will have to determine the type of rolling resistance needed for a dump truck, whereas that may not have been something they would have had to worry about before. In fact, demand for 445-type tires is already growing in the dump truck sector.

But what’s the difference? In these cases, fleets are looking for a lighter, far more durable tire that can be retreated may times over. While these fleet types haven’t traditionally looked at fuel efficiency as the number one factor when selecting a tire, it will now be a consideration – perhaps that’s not such a bad thing?

Wide-Based Singles and Retreading

We’ve talked before about the benefits of retreading, but in the case of wide-base singles, retreading isn’t as much as an imperative. While there are some preconceived notions as to why wide-based singles aren’t the greatest for retreads, these tires do have some physical limitations that prevent them going through multiple retreads.

The main reason for this is that wide-base tires operate far closer to their load-bearing capacity than do duals in a standard configuration. In most cases, wide-base tires will go through one or two retreads, which helps maximize the casing without over-extending it.

Still, if the casings are treated well and the tires are not operated underinflated, there’s no reason why multiple retreads for wide-base singles isn’t a feasible option. Definitely keep an eye on underinflation, as that is most often the problem with case integrity.

According to Michelin, “a tire that is run 10% underinflated will lose 10% tread wear and will come out of service quicker, while a tire that is 20% below the optimal air pressure is considered a flat tire.”

So, as you can see, proper inflation counts, especially where re-treaded single wide-based tires are concerned. The fact is, if you are running a tire 20% underinflated, you should probably consider scrapping it.

Consider how much these tires cost and it’s important to consider the mission-crippling and bottom-line impacting potential of ruining them by running with a flat. Fortunately, there are a number of systems out there that help you gauge and manage tire inflation.

In the case that a tire is punctured, there are puncture sealing technologies that can instantly seal nail-hole punctures up to a certain size and allow the truck to continue running until a repair facility has been reached.

These systems are especially important if your fleet is considering a proper retread program for the tires. The casing must remain protected, flats must be avoided – or mitigated – and inflation must be constantly monitored to ensure the tires stay at the proper pressure per OEM recommendation.

When a fleet isn’t practicing good tire management, they may be unsure as to a tire’s inflation history and may be hesitant to retread a single wide-base even once. That’s why a proper tire maintenance program is more important than ever, especially as GHG Phase 2 goes into effect.

Also consider that if one of these tires goes flat on the road, your truck driver is essentially stuck, as you can’t move. Running the flat will destroy your wide-single wheel, which, as you know, does not come cheap.

If you actively manage and have confidence in your tire management program, there’s no reason why your wide-based singles can’t go through multiple casings. It’s also a good idea to switch wheel positions. After the first retread, the drive tires can be moved back to the trailer position where they undergo less stress.

Staying in Compliance with GHG Phase 2

The whole reason we are talking about single wide-base tires is because of the GHG Phase 2 reduction rules and tires will play a very significant role in staying in compliance with those rules. Since the EPA will be providing OEMs with credits for equipping trucks with tires such as these, expect to see more of them on the road by the day.

The credits are designed around a complex series of tests and various calculations that manufacturers must perform to receive their credits. The test results will be displayed on a compliance label which will be placed on the door post of the vehicle.

The sticker itself will only indicate the low-rolling-resistance rating of the tire, as opposed to the type of tire being used. This is good news for fleets, as we we’ll explain in a moment.

Vehicle owners will be required to use the same type of tire throughout the entire lifespan of the vehicle they’ve been equipped on. Put another way, if a vehicle is equipped with low-rolling-resistance tires, they cannot switch to a non-low-rolling-resistance tire within the life of the vehicle.

If someone purchases the truck, the new owner will be required to use the same equipment that had been used prior to the vehicle’s purchase. While the EPA has stated they may make a few changes to this rule – such as removing the roof fairing requirement if it isn’t needed – the vehicle will need to be in compliance with whatever original equipment was used throughout its lifetime.

Digging a little deeper, what this means is that the EPA will not bother differentiating between whether the truck is equipped with single or dual tires. If the tires being used meet the original criteria, that’s all that matters. So, fleets should still be able to spec wide singles then switch them out for duels once trade time comes along.

In the end, switching to wide-base single tires will be just one cog in the wheel of staying within GHG Phase 2 regulations, but as it appears now, they certainly will be an appropriate one.

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